Interior Designer Spotlight: A Conversation with Summer Thornton

By: Alexandra Cohen

March 06, 2020

Chicago-based interior designer Summer Thornton

At RoGallery we have the privilege of working with many talented interior designers, art advisors, and members of the art industry from around the world. Chicago-based designer Summer Thornton has been a friend of the gallery for about five years and we are always blown away by the colorful interiors she assembles.

A blend of colors and patterns come together to create a space with a bold yet serene feel.

We were lucky enough to chat with Summer this week to find out more about her design process and the kinds of artwork she is drawn to. Read on for some words of wisdom from the Midwest's hottest designer and be sure to check out Summer's curated collection, featuring her top art picks from RoGallery!

What is the first step of your design process?

It's always a concept, a dream, some sort of fantasy to bring to life. After that it's color!

What draws you to a design element (i.e. material, artwork, furniture)?

I am typically drawn to an idea or concept first and the materials are just what makes that come to life. In general, I'm attracted to natural and older materials. I love active marbles, old brass, heavy cast iron, rich wood, plaster details, and basically anything people have been using for centuries.  

How do you choose art for a space?

I choose it by mood and feel. Do we need a jolt of something modern to contrast? Then we use pop art. Do we need to tame a bold wall color? Then we may pull an antique oil painting or two.

A statement artwork brings together the subtle colors and textures of this living room.

What is your favorite piece you installed for a project?

Hands down my favorite piece is one I dug out of an old dusty antique store in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is a simple drawing of a young woman that has a very romantic feel. No clue who the artist is but it gives Rembrandt vibes.  

Who is your favorite artist?

I have so many it's hard to choose! I love Cy Twombly, Salvador Dali, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Mark Rothko, and Helen Frankenthaler.

What kind of art is in your home?

I have a mix of antique portraiture, Richard Anuszkiewicz, and my husband’s photography.

"Individuality over the status quo."

Joan Miro artworks pop over the bright blue couch in this chic dining room.

What current trend have you seen for interior design and art?

Individuality over the status quo.

What is one goal you have for 2020?

To be able to take our concepts even further from reality. I like clients who want to dream and create and experience. I like projects where people are free to express themselves through their interior.  

Why do you love RoGallery?

I love it because it has so much great vintage art and great pop art!

Known for her fearlessly bold, vivacious, and colorful interiors that burst with life, Summer Thornton is a design star on the rise. Her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Domino, Modern Luxury Interiors and more including 5 recent national magazine cover stories. Since 2017 she's been named to the annual 1stDibs50 list of the top 50 interior designers in the world and Sotheby's list of 20 designers to watch. Headquartered in Chicago, the firm works on projects nationwide with recent projects in Atlanta, Naples, Dallas, NYC and Chicago.  Summer believes that each client's home should be a reflection of their personal style - their soul, passions, and quirks should be found on the walls and in the furniture throughout the home - so no two projects should ever look alike. For more information visit:

Leaning framed artwork against the wall rather than hanging it gives a playful feel to this hallway.

Are you a member of the art industry? We welcome galleries, dealers, museums, designers, and advisors to join the RoGallery Trade Program here and you could be featured too!

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